By Elizabeth Narins
Some fitness partners flake out, miss workouts, or make excuses. But here's a partner that won't: your dog. New fitness classes for out-of-shape people and their pets are popping up across the country (to find out if any are near you, review our list of the Best Pet-Friendly Fitness Classes). And it's about time: More than 52 percent of dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's 2012 National Pet Obesity Survey. Compare that to the stats for their owners: About one-third of Americans are obese, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Working out with your dog doesn't just benefit your health, though. It can be a real treat for your pet--and for you. "A dog is the best motivator you'll ever have," says Tricia Montgomery, founder and president of K9 Fit Club, a Hinsdale, IL-based fitness club for people and their pets. "All they want to do is spend time with you and please you," she says. "They look forward to it." And although they won't judge you for skipping workouts, it's tough to say no when you have to face a wagging tail.
The Fat-Blasting Doggy Workout Circuit
If you don't live near a dog-friendly class--and aren't into running with your canine--you can still get in on the fit-pet action. Montgomery created this 30-minute circuit, which alternates between cardio and body-weight training moves, to give you and your canine a heart-pumping full-body workout.
Rover's reverse lunges with paw
Tell your dog to sit. Then face him with your feet together. Step back with one foot so that your front leg is bent at a 90-degree angle with your knee directly above your ankle. At the bottom of each lunge, ask your dog for his paw to "shake." Release the dog's paw as you stand to return to your starting position. Repeat on the other side, and ask your dog for his other paw. Repeat for 20 reps. NOTE: If your dog doesn't know how to "shake"--or won't do it 20 times--pat him on the head instead.
Sit-and-stay side shuffles
Holding the leash so your dog moves with you, perform a side shuffle across the room or workout area. Then, facing the same direction, shuffle back to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.
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Paws push ups
Ask your dog to sit or lie down next to you while you get into pushup position. Keeping your abs tight, and elbows tucked into your sides, lower your body until it hovers above the ground, then push back up. Do as many as you can, dropping from your toes to your knees if needed. While you recover, have your dog do five Doggy Push Ups: Tell him to sit, then lay down five times.
Waggin' wall sit
With your back against a wall, sit so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. If your dog is small, hold him.
If your dog is large, ask him to put his paws on your lap to increase the challenge. Hold the wall sit for up to one minute.
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With your dog laying next to you, get into pushup position on your toes or knees with your elbows under your shoulders. Tighten your core and make sure your butt is aligned with your shoulders so your body forms a straight line. Hold for up to one minute while breathing normally.